Wife Story

Salt Lake City Weekly | April 19, 2005
Just when you thought the mock-doc format had been played out by Christopher Guest, along comes this savvy satire from Andrew Gurland and Huck Botko. “Documentary filmmaker” Gurland--co-director of the notoriously shelved “was it staged or was it real” Sundance ’98 doc Frat House--follows surly, pudgy New Yorker Andrew (Andrew Martinez) as he finds a Burmese bride through a matchmaking catalog. But the relationship between Andrew and Lichi (Eugenia Yuan) takes unexpected turns, as Gurland himself becomes part of a romantic triangle. The script hits nearly every target it aims for, from Andrew claiming he wants a hookup “without all the bull----” yet describing his doorman job to Lichi as “security and property management,” to an unflinchingly funny look at American cultural condescension. Yet it may be smartest as a stab at “objective” documentary filmmaking itself, and the way filmmakers inevitably become part of the story--which could make it Gurland’s definitive statement on the Frat House controversy. Though the third act goes a bit astray as it heads towards a promising but out-of-place “gotcha,” Mail Order Wife exposes plenty of harsh realities, even if it’s all actually fake.

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